Christopher Rufo, City Journal, February 11, 2021
A Philadelphia elementary school recently forced fifth-grade students to celebrate “black communism” and simulate a Black Power rally in honor of political radical Angela Davis.
According to whistleblower documents and a source within the school, a fifth-grade teacher at the inner-city William D. Kelley School designed a social studies curriculum to celebrate Davis, praising the “black communist” for her fight against “injustice and inequality.” As part of the lesson, the teacher asked students to “describe Davis’ early life,” reflect on her vision of social change, and “define communist”—presumably in favorable terms.
At the conclusion of the unit, the teacher led the ten- and eleven-year-old students into the school auditorium to “simulate” a Black Power rally to “free Angela Davis” from prison, where she had once been held while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder. The students marched on the stage, holding signs that read “Black Power,” “Jail Trump,” “Free Angela,” and “Black Power Matters.” They chanted about Africa and ancestral power, then shouted “Free Angela! Free Angela!” as they stood at the front of the stage.
The William D. Kelley School has long been one of the most troubled in the district. The school’s student population is 94 percent black and 100 percent “economically disadvantaged.” Academically, it is one of the worst-performing schools in Pennsylvania. By sixth grade, only 3 percent of students are proficient in math, and 9 percent are proficient in reading. By graduation, only 13 percent of Kelley students will have achieved basic literacy.
Despite this abysmal academic performance, teachers and administrators at William Kelley have gradually abandoned traditional pedagogy in favor of political radicalism. Even the school’s newest public artworks illustrate this politicization. Administrators recently commissioned a mural of Davis and Huey P. Newton, who represent the Communist and Black Panther revolutionary movements of the 1960s; both figures stood trial for various crimes, including the murder of a police officer.